Clocking in at about 30 minutes from fridge to table and packing a heaping helping of flavor, you’ll swipe right on this pork tinder-loin. (Get it?)
Pork tenderloin can’t be that easy, can it? It sounds so dang FANCY!
Well guess what, fancy pants? It is that easy. It’s lean, simple to cook, significantly cheaper than its beef counterpart, and of course, TENDER. Cooking the tenderloin is simple, but what separates a good tenderloin from a GREAT one is how it’s seasoned. Given how lean this cut is, it won’t pack the same porky punch as bacon or ribs, its anatomical neighbors, without a little assistance. No, this cut needs a hero to make it shine. That hero, our hero, is butter. (With a solid assist from our rub.)
You’ll want a tenderloin that’s about one pound, two tablespoons of softened butter, and whatever spices you want for your rub. (See The Rub below.)
Most of the pork tenderloins you buy at the supermarket will already have the silver skin removed, but in case yours does not, it’s simple to remove. Wiggle a butterknife between the skin and the meat, then pull back the skin with a paper towel.
Once your tenderloin is rinsed and ready, use your hands and SLATHER it with butter, making sure to cover the whole tenderloin. If the butter is room temperature, this step is much easier. Use your hands to make sure the butter is evenly coating the whole cut. Don’t worry about butter that sticks to the prep area and not the meat. That will be picked up by the rub.
Now let’s talk about the rub. The one I’ve included in this recipe is time-tested and delicious on everything from tenderloin to ribs to chicken to fish, but here’s a secret- your rub can be whatever you want it to be. Not crazy about garlic? Take it out. Love rosemary? Double it. Want to bring some East Asian pizzaz to your tenderloin? Throw in a teaspoon of cumin or turmeric. My Granny rarely used much more than just salt and pepper to season meat, and it was always good. The bottom line is, go crazy with your rub if you want to, or go simple. This is where you control the flavor of your pork. Make it yours!
Once your rub is ready, apply it generously to the tenderloin. Again, it helps to use your hands here. It is a rub after all! Any butter that stuck to your prep area before will bind with the rub and stick to the meat.
After your tenderloin is all rubbed up, it’s time to get cookin’.
Heat a large skillet (cast iron or dutch oven if you got it) on the stove over medium high heat. Once it’s good and hot (with a seasoned cast iron, I wait until it’s just starting to smoke a little), place the tenderloin in the skillet and sear it for one minute. Searing the meat seals in the juices and creates a delicious crust around the tender meat.
CAUTION: If you used cayenne in your rub, or any very spicy spice, it will steam up and CLEAR OUT YOUR SINUSES. I highly recommend turning on your vent fan or opening a window for this step.
After one minute, flip the tenderloin in the pan and brown the other side.
After another minute on the stove, make sure that the whole cut is sufficiently seared (don’t be afraid to spot-sear it a little if need be), then transfer the whole pan into your hot oven.
Let it cook for 5 minutes in the oven, then remove the pan from the oven and flip the tenderloin over again.
Put it back in the oven for another 10 or so minutes, until the internal temp reaches 140 degrees F. (I recommend using a digital thermometer. This one works!)
Once your tenderloin reaches 140, remove it from the oven and transfer it to a plate to rest for 5-10 minutes. The cooking process will “finish” during this time, allowing the juices to settle so that they won’t spill out all over the place when you cut into it.
Once your tenderloin has set, slice it up into 1/4″-1/2″ rings and serve. It doesn’t need any sauce given how flavorful and juicy it already is, but a little A1, BBQ sauce or apple sauce never hurt nobody. Go crazy, I bet it’ll be good. Enjoy!
Rib Rub Pork Tenderloin
A quick, cheap, flavorful, easy southern meal. Adjust the cayenne pepper in the rub to make it more or less spicy. Beware, the more cayenne you use, the more spicy the steam will be when you sear the tenderloin in the pan! Guard your eyes!
- ~1 lb. pork tenderloin
- 2 tbsp. butter, softened
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
2. Whisk together all dry ingredients to make rub.
3. Rinse tenderloin in sink. Using hands, coat tenderloin evenly with butter on all sides.
4. Apply rib rub liberally to tenderloin on all sides.
5. Heat skillet on medium high heat until good and hot, place tenderloin in skillet to sear for one minute, then flip tenderloin and sear other side for one minute.
6. Transfer whole skillet to hot oven. After 5 minutes, flip tenderloin in pan, then roast for another 5-10 minutes until internal temp reaches 140 degrees F.
7. Remove skillet from oven and transfer tenderloin to a plate to rest 5-10 minutes.
8. Cut into thin ~1/4″ slices, serve and enjoy!
This recipe is easily multiplied, and given how simple it is, why not? Pork tenderloin tastes just as good after a night in the fridge, and can be the star of breakfast served with biscuits or grits. It also can be sliced up and stuck between two pieces of white bread with pickles and mustard for a hearty and satisfying sandwich at lunch tomorrow. (Plan your nap time accordingly.)
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Keep on cookin’!